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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 00:43 GMT
Pakistan rains 'leave 60 dead'
A man inspects the remains of his home after the floods subside
Many homes have been destroyed
More than 60 people are now reported to have died as a result of heavy rains and snowfall in recent days in Pakistan.

Several thousand people have been made homeless.

But the heavy downpour has also improved the water level in the country's rivers, and may end the drought-like conditions in some of the worst affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

And in Indian-administered Kashmir, where heavy snow has allayed fears of a dry summer, there has been rejoicing.

Houses destroyed

Pakistan has been witnessing one of the longest spells of continuous rain for several years.

Hundreds of mud-houses have been destroyed, killing or injuring dozens of people. Many have lost their livelihoods.

In some parts of Sindh and Punjab provinces, a number of villages have been completely destroyed by gales. Flash floods in parts of Balochistan have washed away large parts of roads and highways, causing widespread disruption.

Officials say they cannot yet estimate the extent of damage to life and property.

A senior weather official said the situation had started to improve in southern Pakistan. But scattered rainfall has continued in Islamabad and parts of Punjab, with the country's northern region still getting heavy snowfall.

Victim of weather
The full extent of the damage is not yet clear

Because of the weather conditions, all flights to Gilgit and other parts of northern areas are suspended. Some of these areas have also remained cut-off by road.

Officials hope the weather will improve by Thursday.

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says officials there hope the long-term effects of the rain will be highly positive.

In parts of Balochistan and Sindh, drought-like conditions had been developing.

But more importantly, water levels in most of Pakistan's rivers have improved significantly. The snowfall in the mountainous region may help maintain a constant water supply for irrigation purposes in the coming months.

Kashmir water

The residents of Indian-administered Kashmir have been celebrating an unusually heavy spell of snowfall.

The snow came so late in the season that many in the Valley of Kashmir were preparing for another spell of dry weather.

Apart from the southern districts of Anantnag and Pulwama the Valley has received on an average of 3 to 7 feet of snow.

The ski resort of Gulmarg, which is around 40 kilometres north of Srinagar, has received 6 feet of snow.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says few people are complaining, despite disruptions to power supplies, slippery roads and the suspension of air and road traffic between the Valley and the rest of the world.

Local people are saying that at least the snow ensures adequate supply of water for drinking and irrigation during the coming summer months.

Water levels on the Jhelum river are high again, making it possible for the region's hydroelectric plants to work to maximum capacity.

But the snow has taken its human toll, with at least three people reported killed.



LINKS TO MORE SOUTH ASIA STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
Pakistanis hit by drought
05 Aug 01 |  South Asia
India rejects climate change pressure
30 Oct 02 |  South Asia
El Nino blamed for weather chaos
11 Aug 02 |  In Depth
Balochistan drought at 'crisis point'
08 May 00 |  South Asia


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